Lecturers - beware germs
I have moaned before about pointless health and safety notices (like the one urging drunks to take care on the station platform -- for those drunks compos mentis enough to stop and read the notice). But the USA sometimes presents even more aggressive examples of the nanny-state.
I had a great time in Madison, but was a bit surprised to find one of those containers of hygienising "wipes" on the podium in the lecture room. I wasn't sure exactly what the point was. Was I supposed to sterilise my own hands so that I didn't pollute the lecturing control panel? Or was I supposed to use them to wipe the microphone and the switches and computer connections etc, in case there were some threatening germs still lurking from the previous user?
It reminded me of those US supermarkets where they give you an antiseptic wipe to clean the handle of the trolley with (or your own hands?) before you load it up with your food.... and indeed about all those women whom I found in Berkeley used their feet to flush the loo, and assumed that was normal.
I guess I am counter-suggestible in the hygiene department, as in others . . . .
. . . but when I see a notice in a loo urging me to wash my hands to prevent the outbreak of whatever plague we are currently fighting, I am LESS likely to do it than if there is no warning notice at all, and I can treat myself as a responsible individual who can and will make responsible decisions.
I was reflecting on this as I waited on Madison airport, following a visit to the Ladies, which was more than usually kitted out with hygiene notices. In fact, I was wondering if those wartime posters about "Careless talk costing lives" would have made me more or less likely to blab to the handsome stranger about the current location of all the soldiers I knew, or the latest developments at Bletchley Park....when, even worse, a loud announcement was made over the airport tannoy to all and sundry.
Yes, it was urging all passengers to wash their hands carefully and to sneeze, if they must, into a tissue.
At least, we can be thankful that the States has so far resisted the British obsession with cctv cameras, else they would no doubt be installed in loos just to make sure that no hand was left unscrubbed.